It started in a garden.
Worlds erupted to life. Stars flung through skies. Planets spun into orbits. Mountains sculpted. Seas filled.
Chaos took shape as order was formed. The void animated with the energies of new life.
Out of dust man was created. From his body, a perfect match forged. In place of nothing, a beautiful, flourishing Garden called Eden burst forth full of life and love.
The genesis of God’s dream to create a community of beauty and purpose–an extension of the intimate dynamic that had always existed within the Trinity–literally sprang to life in that Garden.
Then, Eden was spoiled. Soiled by sin. Sullied by selfishness.
The Garden once filled with everything God loved was fatally flawed by everything He hated. The picture-perfect work of His hands marred beyond recognition by one senseless act of doubt-fueled rejection by the ones He loved completely.
It seemed the Garden had come to the withering finality of death.
It too began in a garden.
The Creator chose to restore what had been ruined. God never intended to let His beautiful plan be derailed by the short-sighted selfishness of men who had risen from mere dust. The freedom of choice He had built into these beloved humans was not going to end with a rejection of the One who had so tenderly formed them.
He would win our hearts again.
So in intricate detail and at ultimate cost, God entered His Creation and lived among us to clearly demonstrate what He really meant when He made us in the first place. This “Second Adam” was a panoramic and personal display of all man could have been and would one day be when he chose to live within the Spirit of his Creator.
This act of radical revision was not pretty. In fact, uglier moments have never been seen in all human history. The hatred, venom and evil of a creation seething with frustrated purpose exploded from its core–the heart of man. The poison released killed the Author of life.
Man at His worst silencing God at His best.
And then, as John records, “after it was all over” man laid God in a garden of death. The absolute antithesis of when God had placed man in a garden of life.
Man thought he had finally put an end to the haunting memory of what he had been in that first Garden. The festering longing for original intention buried in a tomb. The last hints of what might have been locked up tight behind a king’s seal.
But what began in the Garden of creation was forever renewed in the Garden of redemption.
The seed fell into the ground and died so that the Garden of God would bloom again. Rather than the end, this Garden was a new beginning.
The hints of greatness man thought he had buried were germinating underground for those days of silence when the great Gardener lay behind a stone.
Death was not fulminating there. Life was germinating.
What came next–what blossomed in that Garden–was a beauty no one could ever extinguish again. Hope restored. Purpose recovered. Death reversed. Life renewed.
The hidden work in the Garden of Death would once and for all restore the days when man and God would walk together sharing intimacies in the cool of the day.
His verdant Garden would flower once more.
A reading for Lent. Thoughts from John 19:38-42.